At the end of summer and into early fall, East Cooper residents may encounter wasps or other stinging insects as we enjoy the outdoors and cooler temperatures in our area. One wasp to lookout for is the yellow jacket. Yellow jackets are about 1/2″ in length and have yellow and black stripes. They become a nuisance because they enjoy many of the same types of foods we eat. They are attracted to any type of soda, ice cream, cupcakes, candy, fruit or vegetable juices, syrups, jellies, and deli meats. This insect loves to be the unwelcome guest at your picnic or favorite outdoor restaurant area.

Yellow jackets usually build their nests in the ground but can occasionally have an above ground nest.

Check out this video.

The underground nest has one entry hole and can be seen during the day as workers come and go. The entry hole is the size of a quarter and can be found in bare soil, pine straw, mulch or even a tree stump. These wasps can be very aggressive if they feel threatened. They have a smooth stinger and can sting you multiple times. They are not like a honey bee that stings you and then dies. Be very careful not to disturb a yellow jacket nest, it may contain several thousand angry family members. Some people even experience allergic reactions to the sting.

Another wasp that East Cooper residents may find burrowing in their yard is the cicada killer. This wasp also has yellowish and black stripes, but is much larger than a yellow jacket. The wasp may be 1.5″ to 2″ long and have a wingspan of 3″. Unlike the yellow jacket,  the cicada killer is a solitary insect and lives alone. The female has a stinger and can be aggressive if she feels threatened. The males have no stinger and are usually the ones you may see flying around the entry hole to the ground nest. Basically, these males are waiting for the female to emerge so the can go on a “date”. The males often scare people because they appear to be aggressive. They really are not interested in you, they are fighting with each other in hopes of winning over the female. 

Cicada killers hunt cicadas. The female will sting a cicada and bring it to her nest. She then lays an egg in the cicada. The eggs will hatch and the young cicada killer larvae will feed on the dead cicada. People will see the cicada killers emerge from the ground in the spring and become terrified due to their size. Many people mistake this wasp for a hornet. In most situations pest control measures are not needed. Sometimes control is needed if we find nests near play grounds, sand traps and tee boxes on golf courses, ball fields, or plant bedding areas near a home or business.

If you need help with identification or control of these ground dwelling wasps please give East Cooper Termite and Pest Solutions a call.